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St. Pete Beach redevelopment rules closer to reality

ST. PETE BEACH — The City Commission took yet another step Tuesday along a long and complicated path to implement the city's new voter-approved redevelopment regulations.

Voters amended the city comprehensive plan in June, creating a special community redevelopment district, as well as establishing a large resort section of the city's land development code. The voter-approved ordinances also changed the city's general standards for redevelopment and the city's Town Center core development regulations.

Under state law, the proposed Community Redevelopment Plan, which includes the items approved by voters, requires a series of additional approvals before it can go into effect.

In its role as the Community Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday, the commission approved the Planning Board's analysis comparing the controversial voter-approved community redevelopment plan and the city's comprehensive plan.

For each of the comprehensive plan goals, objectives and policies, the analysis listed how they would be implemented by particular chapters and sections within the proposed redevelopment regulations.

Next, the Pinellas County Commission will consider the proposal, an action the city administration does not believe will be completed much before the end of the year.

If approved by the county, the proposed redevelopment regulations must go back to voters.

The proposed redevelopment plan is part of a larger package of planning initiatives that were submitted to the city via voter petitions last year by a citizen's group, Save Our Little Village.

The SOLV petitions, along with amendments to the city's comprehensive plan, were approved by voters in June with the expectation they would become part of the city's comprehensive plan and new land development regulations.

The city agreed to that provision in a settlement of a lawsuit filed by SOLV before the June election.

Meanwhile, the plan continues to be opposed by members of Citizens for Responsible Growth, which unsuccessfully fought to prevent the SOLV-initiated referendum election.

Bill Pyle, a major financial supporter of a political action group, again spoke out against the redevelopment plan at Tuesday's commission meeting.

An unsuccessful lawsuit by Pyle claimed the proposed development rules would result in a "drastic increase" in building heights in some areas of the city "from 50 feet to 146 feet and increase density from 30 units an acre to 75 or more units an acre along the city's beaches."

He repeated this previous criticism Tuesday, calling the SOLV changes "substantial rezoning that took place without knowledge of citizenry."

Commissioners Linda Chaney and Harry Metz (who were CRG organizers and supporters) opposed sending the consistency report to the county.

"You already agreed to do this in your settlement agreement," reminded City Manager Mike Bonfield.

Chaney countered, however, that she was not comfortable with the details of the plan. Metz said the proposed plan fails to meet city charter requirements.

"I would like to put this forward and do what we are obligated to do by the state," said Mayor Michael Finnerty.

Commissioners Al Halpern and Christopher Leonard joined Finnerty in approving the consistency report and then authorizing the proposed redevelopment plan for the city's proposed community redevelopment area to be submitted to the County Commission, which will review the plan for consistency with the county's comprehensive plan.

St. Pete Beach redevelopment rules closer to reality 08/16/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 17, 2008 9:52pm]
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